Posts Tagged ‘Zinfandel’

As I wrote in a recent post, I was a big fan of Seghesio Zins in the late 80s and early 90s — but then they fell off my radar for a while. I recently had a bottle of the Seghesio Omaggio 2004 that I really enjoyed — and said it was probably time to have one of their Zinfandels in the near future. I read that Seghesio thought the 07 was the best Sonoma Zinfandel to date and The Wine Spectator scored it 93 points, so I decided now was the time.

Raspberry, smokey dark fruits and violets with twizzler and spiced, dark fruit compote on the nose. On the palate, black cherry and raspberry with toasted oak, licorice and black pepper. Well balanced with ample, but soft tannins.  I would put this down for 2-3 years, but expect this to be a great expression of California Zinfandel and an excellent value at $17 a bottle. 15.5% alcohol — yet well integrated, lots of nice fruit. Actually, it is more elegant than fruit forward, though a bit too much oak, but assume it will soften with some time.

I purchased this at wine.com — and while I do not frequent their site, it is interesting to note that they are doing some interesting things in terms of pricing. I think the Seghesio lists for about $23+ on wine.com, but search for it on wine-searcher.com and click on wine.com and the price is reduced to about $17. They also are offering shipping for a penny on orders over $95. Both are considered coupons when checking out and you can only use one coupon per purchase, but still makes for a very good deal.

This is a lot of wine for $17 a bottle. Recommended for anyone that loves a great value and Zinfandel.

Update November 11, 2008
The 2007 Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel was just awarded the number 10 spot on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2008.

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I visited Healdsburg for the first time some 18 years ago. Seghesio was near the top of my list of wineries to visit. At the time I was working at Bonny Doon Vineyard and became interested in CalItalian varietals. I was also a big fan of Zinfandel, making Seghesio one of my favorite producers in California.

Last year, I was back in Healdsburg and admit that Seghesio wasn’t on my list of places to visit, but we were in the area and I figured it would be fun to go back and see how things had changed. I admit that it had probably been 2 years since I had bought a wine from Seghesio. It’s not that I didn’t like their wines, but they had lost some of their excitement. I also didn’t consider them to be great values, there were a lot of other producers competing for my interest and at some point Seghesio just fell off my radar.

I was prepared to be underwhelmed, but our visit to the tasting room was one of the trip’s many highlights — they were extremely friendly and it did not take much encouragement for them to open some additional wines not listed as being available for tasting. More importantly, I really liked their wines and left with a renewed appreciation of their wines.

One of the wines I purchased was the Seghesio Omaggio. I had tucked this away, but came across it as I was packing up my wines for the move. It is a Sonoma Super Tuscan inspired blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Sangiovese.  It is barrel aged for 18 months in French oak (30% new). Omaggio is Italian for homage and the wine is a tribute to Edoardo and Angela Seghesio who planted the family’s first vineyard in America in 1895.  The wine was first produced for their Centennial vintage in 1995.

Dark ruby in color. A nose of black fruit, sour cherry, violets and touch of kirsch, chocolate, clove and graphite. Black cherry, black currant and plum with some pine and herbaceous notes on the palate. I liked the body and weight of the wine as well as the dusty and silky tannins. I also was impressed by the mellowness of the Cabernet with the brightness of the Sangiovese. It weighs in at 15% alcohol. More Old World in style than New. Well balanced, lots of nice fruit but doesn’t push things too far and is actually quite elegant. Not the greatest of values, but a very good wine — and I expect that Seghesio will be getting more of my attention. I have not had one of their Zinfandels in a very long time and think it might be time.

Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2007

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This wine is a blend of 84% petite sirah and 16% zinfandel from the Lytton Estate. The blend’s zinfandel is from hundred-year-old vines and the petite from younger wines. This was the first petite sirah table table wine produced from the estate, producing 38 barrels in 2002.

Stunning black purple in color with serious legs in the glass. On the nose, there is a stewed rhubard component, tarry black fruits, violets with slight hint of brandy (and a touch of heat). On the palate, chewy black cherry, plum, black currant and a touch of leather and bubble gum. Great mouthfeel, full-bodied, very lush but dry with a solid finish.

This is showing very well right now (and was even better the day after it was opened) and I expect it will still be drinking young for another 4-5 more years at a minimum. I was surprised to see that the vineyard still has this in stock. It was not a very difficult decision to pick up a couple more bottles.

It retails at $30 a bottle, not a value wine but a very high quality and memorable wine. Recommended.

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images1.jpg Larry Turley and winemaker Ehren Jordan are well known for their Zinfandels from Napa Valley vineyards. Their Zinfandels tend to be made in a big, ripe style. Their 2000 Atlas Peak Zinfandel weighs in at 15.7% alcohol — and I do get some heat (ok, quite a bit of heat, but it softens with decanting and some air time) on the nose as well as some candied fruit and stewed cherries. Very new world in style — dense, extracted, rich and concentrated. Dark berry jam, cherry, some tobacco, oak…impressive balance for its size, silky tannins and a nice finish.

This wine was made from grapes grow organically in red volcanic soil. 500 cases produced.

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Zinfandel grapesI love Zinfandel. I know California Cab might be more popular — but there is not a more distinctly “American” wine than Zinfandel. Zinfandel is a variety of red grape planted in over 10 percent of California vineyards. DNA fingerprinting revealed that it is genetically equivalent to the Croatian grape Crljenak Kaštelanski, and also the Primitivo variety traditionally grown in the ‘heel’ of Italy.

Two of the best producers of Zinfandel are also 2 of the best wine producers in the United States. Rosenblum and Ridge. Rosenblum makes big, inky, extracted new world wines — wines for those individuals that are also admirers of Planck’s constant. These are big wines that seem to set the bar at a minimum of 14.5% alcohol.

Ridge wines are a little closer to the old world style with homeopathic doses of modern wine making. Ridge briefly experimented with microbullage, using small amounts of oxygen to soften a wine’s tannins. Ridge is part old school, part science, and part art. No non-native yeasts or enzymes are used at Ridge. No chemicals beyond sulfur dioxide. No mysterious antimicrobial compounds.

Both of them produce best in class Zinfandels. I could understand someone being a fan of one and a hater of the other — but I love both of them. In addition, there are many other great Zin producers worth seeking out. Here is a list of some of my favorites.

Robert Biale
JC Cellars

Looks like the 2005 vintage was challenging in California — lower temperatures that weren’t hot enough for Zinfandel to ripen. So at least for this varietal, I would focus on 2004 and 2003 — and 2001 if you can get your hands on it.

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